TiO2/UV based photocatalytic pretreatment of wheat straw for biogas production

Merlin Alvarado-Morales, Panagiotis Tsapekos, Muhammad Awais, Muhammad Gulfraz, Irini Angelidaki

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    The present study deals with the application of an advanced oxidation process combining UV irradiation in the presence of the photocatalyst titanium dioxide (TiO2), as an effective pretreatment method of wheat straw as means for increasing its biodegradability for increased biogas production by anaerobic digestion (AD). Especially attention was paid in oxidation of the lignin in straw, besides release the sugars from the lignocellulosic structure of straw. Specifically, four different TiO2 concentrations (0.0, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0% (w/w) TiO2) were tested at three different irradiation times (0, 1, 2, and 3 h). Products of lignin-fraction oxidation, namely, vanillic acid, ferullic acid and acetic acid were quantified for each set of pretreatment conditions. Subsequently, biochemical methane potentials (BMPs) assays were conducted under thermophilic conditions from differentially pretreated samples and the pretreatment with the best performance was further tested in continuous mode operation. From BMP assays, 1.5% (w/w) TiO2/straw at 3 h of UV light exposure pretreatment resulted in 37% (p < 0.05) increase in methane yield and 25% in CSTRs. It was concluded that the presence of TiO2 and the products of lignin oxidation did not inhibit the AD process. Finally, a simplified energy assessment showed that all pretreatment conditions become feasible when amounts of substrate to be treated are greater than the threshold value of 1.15 g.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-161
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Biogas
    • Ferullic acid
    • Lignin
    • Photocatalytic oxidation
    • Vanillic acid
    • Wheat straw


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